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Communications of the ACM

ACM Opinion

Python Meets Plato: Why Stanford Should Require Computer Science Students to Study ethics

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Credit: University of Oxford

Ethical questions inevitably arise with innovation. But they are often an afterthought. Simplistic justifications can often replace serious ethical consideration. For example, when the tension between privacy and security is perceived as zero-sum, privacy often takes the backseat. While software requires us to consider both privacy and security, the two issues are still perceived as mutually exclusive.

Schools like Stanford should work to change this mindset by including an ethical requirement for engineering degrees. Stanford should require Computer Science majors to take a course on computer and information ethics.

From The Stanford Review
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Andrew Gronosky

Leadership on ethics from professional societies such as ACM will be more effective than simply adding courses to university curricula. College courses won't reach professionals who have already graduated, or those who learn from boot camps. Of course, getting professors engaged with ethics would have farther-reaching impact than a single course. So it would seem there is a chance for ACM and faculty to work together.

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